June 23, 2024

Why are small wild meadows a big help to insects

Why are small wild meadows a big help to insects

Cornflower lawns and other wildflowers attract insects.Photo: iStockphoto / Schad1953

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03/22/2022, 14:5503/22/2022, 14:56

One study From the United Kingdom showed That even a four-square-meter area planted with wildflowers has a positive effect on local insects. To this end, a research group led by Janine Griffiths Lee of the University of Sussex in Brighton has monitored the insect populations for two years in collaboration with citizen scientists and has now published its findings in the Journal of Insect Conservation.

Appeal on social media

Could small patches of wildflower lawns help improve habitats for beneficial insects and increase biodiversity? To answer this question, the team invited citizens with a garden of at least 20 square meters to participate via an amateur research facility and social media.

150 citizen scientists were divided into three groups: One group received a wildflower seed mix such as those sold at garden centers; One was given a seed mixture formulated from the scientific literature on the preferences of beneficial insects; There was no seed for the third group, which served as a control group.

All participants received colored bowls to be filled with water and some washing up liquid – insects were caught with them. Sticky traps were added in the second year. These are created from May to August in the first week of every month for two consecutive dry days.

visible results

A total of 34,438 insects caught by experts were identified before all data collected were evaluated using statistical methods. In the first year, small wildflower lawns attracted 109 percent more bumblebees, 24 percent more solitary bees and 126 percent more solitary wasps than control gardens. In the second year, the number of bumblebees increased by 111 percent, 87 percent of solitary bees, and 85 percent of solitary wasps.

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“This project shows that small lawns can really help pollinators by increasing insect numbers and diversity in the garden.”Griffiths Lee explains. Even small flowerbeds, whether in gardens, allotments, or roadsides, can deliver measurable benefits to bugs and pollinators, the insects that spread pollen off plants, according to co-author Beth Nichols.

The research group hopes the findings will convince more gardeners to plant small lawns for wildflowers, even if they are only four square metres.